A mixed bag.
From the Earth to the Moon (1998): 5 out of 10 From the Earth to the Moon is a strange bird. Not a mini-series in the strictest sense. Each episode is self-contained with virtually no characters, except the space program itself, moving from one episode to the next. Each episode, therefore, is like a one-hour stand-alone movie all sharing the same sets.
Three are brilliantly done (episode 2 “Apollo 1” episode 5 “Spider” and episode 7 “That’s all there is”) The rest are merely OK to outright misses (episodes 8 and 9) and by the time you are ready to spend an hour only with the astronauts wives (episode 11) the whole thing seems a bit of a slog.
The acting sets and special effects are brilliant throughout, but some magic is missing. When Apollo 11 lands on the moon, there is no magic, no excitement. It is all very low key, strangely focused on Buzz Aldrin’s feelings about being second. I was also wondering what they were to do next since we land on the moon episode six in a twelve episode series.
The lack of a character or two that can be followed from episode to episode gives one little reason to invest in the slower episodes that follow number 7. There is no payoff for sticking with the program.
At the beginning of episode 8, about Apollo 13, Tom Hanks laments Americans had become bored with the space program. The episode then spends 50 minutes digging up old chestnuts about old media versus new media. It turns out that the American viewing public wasn’t the only ones bored with outer space.